Setting yourself apart is a must in today’s job market. While experience and technical skills are, of course, important to landing a job, you also need to think about how you’re selling yourself as a contributor to a better workplace.
One CareerBuilder survey showed that 63 percent of employers prioritize a candidate’s soft skills, not just technical skills. This is where character traits come in. Soft skills help you relate to other people, improve workflows, stay motivated, and cultivate a positive, professional environment.
Here is a list of 15 of the most important character traits for work and how to showcase them when you’re job searching.
15 character traits hiring managers love
Employers want to hire people who work well with others. And not just that—they want people who can build successful relationships and collaborate effectively, contributing to a strong company culture. Focus on how you prioritize and approach teamwork. Include past group projects you completed on your resume and cover letter. Highlight why you think it’s so important to create solid work relationships.
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While many companies encourage their employees to express themselves, they also expect them to be respectful and professional. One survey found that 71 percent of employers wouldn’t hire someone who doesn’t follow the appropriate dress code and most of them (81 percent) think that a candidate badmouthing a past employer doesn’t look good.
Staying adaptable has perhaps never been as important as it is now. Offices around the globe shifted to remote work during the pandemic, meaning people had completely different work routines. Emphasize that you have a flexible mindset and can respond well to change. Talk about changes you’ve gone through professionally and how you adapted or grew because of them.
Compassion and empathy are buzzwords in offices these days, as companies have taken a deeper look at mental health and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Studies have shown that compassionate workplaces tend to lead to less stress for employees and more job satisfaction. This is a great term to include on your resume or in your cover letter, and it’s a must if you will be working directly with clients or customers.
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Self-assuredness can get you a long way in the professional realm. Interviewers want to interact with candidates who are well-spoken and secure (even if it’s not always how you’re feeling internally). In the workplace, managers want to be able to depend on someone to handle things on their own and use their good judgment. Just be careful not to overdo the confidence: 76 percent of employers don’t want to hire someone who comes off as arrogant.
There are very few jobs that require zero communication with someone else, whether clients, bosses, or coworkers. Emphasize that you can communicate well no matter the format, and talk about your experience with public speaking and writing. When the entire workplace communicates well, company culture is more positive and work gets done more efficiently.
Creativity is a great trait to have, even if you don’t work in a highly creative field. Creative thinkers aren’t afraid to ask questions and dig deep to solve an issue or propose something new. Think of experiences you’ve had that have forced you to flex that muscle. Highlight your willingness to think outside the box on a regular basis.
Another trait to focus on is integrity. Companies want people they can count on, and not just to get work completed. They want to trust you to make the right decision. They want you to represent their brand well, both inside and outside work. Aside from showing professionalism and being considerate in your digital communications and interviews, talk about why integrity is so important to you and how you maintain that mindset.
Working independently can be a great focus on your resume and cover letter. Highlighting that you work well on your own shows the hiring manager that they don’t have to hold your hand through projects or decisions, and that you are organized and focused. These are important characteristics since sometimes it might just be you and your computer.
If you fail to cater your resume or cover letter to a specific job, or don’t do much research about the company before an interview, it can look like you are inconsiderate or careless. Instead, show that you are attentive, interested, detail-oriented, and observant. Talk about specific details of the job and/or company and why they matter to you.
11. Takes initiative
Initiative is another important keyword to include on your application documents. A CNN survey found that initiative was in the top 10 reasons employers want to hire someone. Bosses want to see that you don’t wait around for instructions and can take things into your own hands (reasonably, of course). Talk about how you are always looking for solutions, staying proactive, and being prepared. In interviews, show that you’re not afraid to voice your ideas.
Being conscientious means you can combine integrity with close attention to detail. You are interested in doing things right the first time and not cutting corners. And you take into account how your words and actions impact others. Talk about your diligence and efficiency in your cover letter. In interviews, talk about how you completed a project or professional goal in the past by taking the obligation seriously.
While energy can be a big plus at work, and you always want to emphasize your enthusiasm for a job or company, don’t be afraid to talk about calmness. Managers love hearing that someone can keep their cool in a crisis.
Employers place a lot of value on workers who want to keep learning. Sometimes your resume will speak for itself if you have multiple degrees, have traveled a lot, or have held jobs in several different industries. But, even if you don’t have this experience to show, talk about your thirst for knowledge and growth, which can contribute to a well-rounded workplace, full of individuals who are ready for whatever’s next.
Finally, make sure you talk about the way you solve problems. Show hiring managers more than just “problem-solver” on your resume and cover letter. Talk about how you can use whatever resources are available to get things done. You’re open-minded and can identify other people’s strengths, always connecting them to your own.
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